Claims to fame: Republican “Servant of the Lord”; former judge / justice of the peace (appointed in 2008 after taking “classes”; elected in 2010 after running unopposed), Arrowhead Justice Court, Maricopa County, Arizona; alumnus, Abilene Christian University; Church of Christ preacher; divorcé (which makes him a biblical adulterer); accused domestic batterer; father of four (two of whom appear to be five or younger); accused child abuser
Moral apex: Tossed off the bench for a minimum of five years by the Arizona Supreme Court for misconduct — which includes allegations of whuppin’ his wife (twice), running around like a chicken to avoid being served with a restraining order (filed by the missus the same day she filed for divorce in March, 2011), and trying to intimate a witness (i.e., getting one of his underlings to run interference with the process server by having the lackey move his van, where the server was waiting, to another location), and violating the same restraining order (yet continuing “to hear cases related to orders of protection while one was served on him”).
Plus, notes the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct “also said that Woolbright attempted to abuse his position as a judge by invoking it repeatedly as unsolicited information to law-enforcement authorities, which he denied, and that he sent threatening text messages to his now ex-wife.”
Did he really do all that stuff? We can’t say — we weren’t there. But, according to the Republic, he “admitted misconduct,” and “agreed to undergo ethics training and an anger-management course.”
Also, says the Republic,
The Republic details some of the allegations: His wife’s “petition cited incidents of violence such as when Woolbright allegedly shoved her against a bathroom sink. Another detailed him ‘angrily swinging the belt’ at one of their children and striking the child across the face, leaving a visible welt.” (’Another time, she said, he threw their child to the floor.”)
What’s his Twinkie defense? According to the Republic, “He said he was the victim of political attacks by those who did not like some of his reform ideas, including lowering pensions and reducing salaries for JPs.” In the meantime, his lawyer argued that Woolbright was “a fairly inexperienced judge” (uh, yeah, without a law degree, for starters), but the commission came back and said that neither inexperience nor lack of education is an excuse for judicial misconduct.
Nevertheless, wrote former Peoria mayor and retired judge John C. Keegan, “A panel of lower-court judges and lawyers … recommended Judge Woolbright receive a minor suspension and additional training. This is strange considering courts routinely demand of those who appear before the bench ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’ under penalty of perjury. Discourteous behavior results in being jailed for contempt of court.
“But according to this recommendation, apparently a judge needs additional training to meet even the minimal standard expected of the general public.
“This smacks of judges protecting judges.”
Meanwhile, while Woolbright was dodging the process server for eleven days (oh, certainly not on purpose or anything!), he called the Peoria police to to accuse his wife of kidnapping their children, suggesting “to the officer that he would be happy to authorize a search warrant for police to enter his wife’s home to get the children. ‘The officer believed he may have been joking, but was nonetheless uncomfortable with the suggestion,’ the commission’s filing said. It also said Woolbright asked officers to ‘ping’ his wife’s mobile phone to learn her location. Police did not oblige.”
In May, 2012, the Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended Woolbright be kicked out of office and never be allowed to serve as a judge again. The final decision was left to the Arizona Supreme Court.
At first, the state high court suspended Woolbright for two months, but objections from other justices of the peace prompted the court to review the case again, and ultimately stripped him of his robes for the five years. He also has to pay all court costs.
“Our community wants an impartial judge. Hard working. Honest. Fair.”
Phillip Woolbright Quick Facts:
• Appointed by the Superior Court of Arizona for the Justice Courts, working as a Volunteer
• Not an attorney… a Citizen educated by the ‘Judicial College of Arizona’ to become a judge.
• A part-time preacher, bringing morals and ethics to the bench
Justice of the Peace
The Justice of the Peace serves a four year term and presides over civil cases under $10,000 and misdemeanor type criminal cases. The Justice Court is a Limited Jurisdiction Court. Those charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Misdemeanor crimes are heard in the justice courts as well as Orders of Protection, Injunctions Against Harassment, Landlord / Tenant Disputes, Traffic Cases and Small Claims. Over 25,000 cases are filed each year which demands a judge with stamina, wisdom and energy.
Phillip Woolbright – Education and Experience
In addition to the Judicial College of Arizona classes taken to become a judge in the Justice Courts, Phillip Woolbright has attended Abilene Christian University classes on the Gospels and extensive studies through the Church of Christ Preacher Training Program in Oregon to become a preacher.
Prior to his judicial and preacher training Phillip attended the following schools for his career as a Computer Chip Designer. [boring stuff deleted for length] …
… Continued self study legal research and judicial education are attended often to keep Phillips judicial skills fine tuned and the new case laws and statutes up to date.
Phillip Woolbright currently sits on the bench in several Justice Courts in Maricopa County part time to help the courts and serves his time “pro bono” without charge to the community.
Did Woolbright forget he was paid $103,000 a year as justice of the peace?
The Arizona Superior Court appointed Phillip Woolbright to the courts after his completion in 2008 of the classes taken at the Judicial College of Arizona. The education offered, by the Judicial College of Arizona about adjudication of the law, has truly been an inspiration for Woolbright to perform further judicial work and humbly serve his community. Phillip Woolbright does not align himself to the legal industry and is not a lawyer nor has any desire to be a lawyer. He believes that in the Justice Courts, a citizen on the bench, educated in law, is best to be impartial. Phillip Woolbright has the life wisdom and judicial education combined with experience that the Justice Court needs.
A true joy in Phillip Woolbright’s life is his part time preaching job to congregations all over the state of Arizona and New Mexico. Phillip is a former Deacon with the church, serving and helping the benevolent, the widows and has been preaching now for over 17 years part time. Preaching has been an interest of Phillip for a long time, after losing his brother at the age of 12 to drugs and alcohol, and seeing the effects of crimes on a family, it has motivated Phillip to be a servant of the Lord and the community. Now, as a polished speaker, with a lifetime dedication to the Lord, this work is a true solitude in his life. The Woolbright family travels to different congregations on the weekends, where help is provided in sermons and classes regarding Gods salvation, relationships, morals and ethics.
Phillip Woolbright is a former Computer Chip Mask Design Engineer. [boring stuff deleted for length] … His design company has a website found at www.apmdesignlabs.com
At the turn of the century Phillip Woolbright helped start a construction company and has developed parcels of land including several small homes around the state for low income families. The company is called A and B Homes Inc. and contributes to the community with voluntary services to churches and free remodeling advice. Phillip Woolbright at one time obtained a real estate license and is currently a licensed General Contractor. The latest project for the company can be found at the website. www.abhomesaz.com
Phillip Woolbright is blessed with 4 children and a very supportive wife. The neighborhood children find the Woolbright home a safe haven and respect the rules of their house. Many teens stay at the Woolbright home during the summer and those teens also attend summer camp together in July. Over the last ten years the Woolbrights have also been very involved in raising Labrador Retrievers while delivering Labrador puppies to good homes.
Phillip Woolbright has many hobbies such as playing guitar in his soft rock and country band and performing to young children his antics as an amateur magician and juggler. Other projects include restoration of an old 1963 pickup truck with his boys and keeping fit as a basketball referee at the High Schools in Maricopa County.
Phillip Woolbright – The Candidate
Phillip Woolbright is appalled by injustice. There are many things that Judges “can” do, however just because they can do something legally does not mean that they should do it as a judge. Keeping the judiciary “above reproach” is very important to the people of the community and the other judges that sit on the bench. Those things that appear as “greedy politics” or something that appears less than service to the community should be avoided. It also makes the political party look intoxicated. Our Judicial branch of government should be upheld with HONOR and those serving should behave with the honor and dignity that the office represents on and off the bench.
“I don’t have anything to say, other than I love my kids, I love my wife and we’re going through a divorce and allegations have been made.”
— Woolbright, when asked if he ever hit his wife
“Valley judge accused of tampering with witness”
KPHO, September 23, 2011
“In five years, who knows, I could be back in judicial office.”
— Woolbright, who says “he plans to stay active in Arizona politics”
“Arrowhead Justice of the Peace Phillip Woolbright removed from office for ethics violations”
Sonu Munshi, Arizona Republic, July 24, 2012
“Given his extreme control over his family, I’m also concerned about his ability to harm his children, as well as to kill them.”
— Psychologist Jill Messing, testifying in family court
“Valley judge accused of tampering with witness”
KPHO, September 23, 2011
In the Matter of Hon. Phillip Woolbright, Arizona Supreme Court, July 23, 2012
Suggested Bible reading for Mr. Woolbright:
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
— Luke 18:6-8
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